Now that dozens of women have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse by Harvey Weinstein, the New York Police Department wants to conclude some unfinished business. Multiple outlets report that detectives have opened a new investigation of the deposed Hollywood mogul, asking women to contact them directly to determine which laws may have been broken and could still be prosecuted. They are specifically looking at one case made public in Ronan Farrow’s reporting, that of forcible oral sex with a named victim:
The New York Police Department has launched a criminal investigation into Harvey Weinstein stemming from a assault allegation 13 years ago, PEOPLE confirms.
The NYPD is looking into claims that the embattled movie mogul sexually assaulted the victim in 2004, a police spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
Officials would not release further information on the alleged assault or the investigation. However, Lucia Stoller, now Lucia Evans, told the The New Yorker that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004.
“I tried to get away, but maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t want to kick him or fight him,” she said. “He’s a big guy. He overpowered me.”
The statute of limitations does not apply to rape cases in New York, which means the police can pick up the investigation at any time. Clearly, police hope to find more victims of the most egregious assaults to come forward and present a strong case against Weinstein. A previous case of groping from 2015 won’t be among those reviewed, however:
ABC News confirms detectives from the NYPD’s Special Victims Unit will review Weinstein’s background to “identify and locate and interview any potential victims” of the disgraced movie producer, in the wake of the cascade of allegations against him, some of which are alleged to have taken place decades ago.
The investigation will include looking into various recent public allegations against Weinstein. Victims are also being encouraged to come forward and talk to detectives.
However, police will not re-open the 2015 investigation into claims made by model Ambra Gutierrez that Weinstein groped her. The New Yorker first reported that story, which included Gutierrez making an audio recording of Weinstein, as part of the NYPD investigation, in which he admits to groping her. Officials declined to prosecute the case, and the two-year statute of limitations has expired.
That lets Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr off the hook, at least for now. The NYPD had harsh words for the DA’s office after his chief deputy blamed the police for an alleged inability to prosecute the Battilana allegation. One imagines that the NYPD would love nothing better than to force the DA to take the case again, but the charges were such that the opportunity has evaporated forever.
The NYPD may have other competition, however. The FBI has decided to take a look into Weinstein’s activities to see if any federal laws were violated. According to the Independent in the UK, that order came directly from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, or so their sources say:
The Trump administration, specifically Attorney General Jeff Sessions, allegedly asked the bureau to open the investigation over fears the Hollywood producer would remain in Europe after his rehabilitation and avoid prosecution like film director Roman Polanski who was accused of sex with a minor but fled to France, according to the Daily Mail.
It has not been confirmed as yet that the order came directly from Mr Sessions. …
The FBI could not immediately be reached for comment, however, the reason for a federal investigation is because Mr Weinstein has been accused of crimes in multiple states as well as possibly France and the UK where he travelled often for Miramax business.
Within its purview, the bureau could investigate whether Mr Weinstein has committed any federal crimes and, should Mr Weinstein travel abroad and stay, prepare for extradition.
That may be the sole purpose of a DoJ probe. If Weinstein committed separate sexual assaults in different states, it would normally still be the jurisdiction of each state to prosecute him. The FBI can assist in those efforts, of course, but they wouldn’t normally take the lead. The big issue here was Weinstein’s announced flight to Europe for “rehab,” but which could easily have been a way to follow Roman Polanski’s lead and dodge criminal consequences for his conduct. Weinstein would have certainly known of Polanski’s success in doing so — Weinstein was one of the director’s biggest advocates for clemency on rape charges.
By the way, it turns out that Weinstein still hasn’t left the country. He got into a verbal altercation with his daughter in Los Angeles yesterday, and according to TMZ is now headed to an Arizona rehab center for an intensive 45-day treatment. The flight risk having abated, so might the FBI’s interest.
Or perhaps the FBI’s probe might have another target. The New York Times has a new report that calls into question claims by The Weinstein Company’s board of complete ignorance of Weinstein’s conduct. As early as 2015, the board had knowledge of multiple payouts to keep Weinstein’s behavior under wraps — although just what the board knew about that behavior is still under debate:
David Boies, a lawyer who represented Mr. Weinstein when his contract was up for renewal in 2015, said in an interview that the board and the company were made aware at the time of three or four confidential settlements with women.
And in the waning hours of last week, as he struggled to retain control of the business in the wake of allegations first reported by The New York Times, Harvey Weinstein fired off an email to his brother and other board members asserting that they knew about the payoffs, according to people who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the confidential communication.
Lance Maerov, the board member who handled the contract negotiations, acknowledged in an interview that he had been told of settlements, but said that he had assumed they were used to cover up consensual affairs. Mr. Maerov said that his chief concern had been whether Mr. Weinstein’s behavior posed a legal liability for the business, and that after receiving assurances that no company money was used and that no complaints against Mr. Weinstein were pending, he had approved the contract.
Given that both the NYT and Ronan Farrow describe numerous sources as executives and employees within Weinstein’s organization, claims of ignorance over his specific behavior will be difficult to sustain. At the very least, the board allowed this toxic and abusive environment to develop and sustain itself for years without any accountability whatsoever. That’s why Rose McGowan has started petitions demanding that every board member resign, and perhaps one reason why she found herself under a Twitter suspension.
The Weinstein Company board has already announced that they will change the organization’s name. Changing its reputation will be a much more difficult, if not impossible, task while they remain within it.
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